Czechia (the Czech Republic) in central Europe is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Czechia’s World Heritage Sites: the Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená Hora.
This architecturally important church is dedicated to a Czech martyr of the 14th century:
“The Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora is situated at Žďár nad Sázavou in western Moravia, in the Vysočina Region, Czech Republic. The church, which was built between 1719 and 1727, is dedicated to the cult of St. John of Nepomuk, a 14th century martyr canonised in the 18th century.
“The property consists of a central-plan church surrounded by a circular cloister. It is one of the most original works by the prominent architect of the Baroque period, Jan Blažej Santini Aichel. The ensemble is an outstanding example of architecture of transition between the Gothic and the Baroque styles. The composition of the property is based on the aesthetic concept of a perfect central complex with an explicit central vertical dominant. The centrality of the design is accentuated by the ground plan, which is based on the parallel to two equivalent radials. The number 5, that is a reference to the five stars of the halo of St. John of Nepomuk representing the five virtues of the saint, is dominant in the layout and proportions. The star-shaped ground plan of the church, with five points, is defined by two groups of five radial axes upon which the basic elements of the ground plan and of the composition of the mass are organized. Ten radials, which intersect in the centre of the church itself, determine the arrangement of chapels and gates of the cloister that surrounds the pilgrims’ field situated outside around the church that is situated in its centre. The chapels and the church portals are spanned by ribbed vaults with stucco decorations, inspired by late Gothic style. The influence of this period is also demonstrated by the presence of buttresses on the exterior walls and the pointed form of the windows and portals.
“The main impression given by the interior is its loftiness and the upward orientation of the space. This space is divided into two by the conspicuous gallery at the base of the vaulting. The central space opens into five niches; of these, four are partitioned horizontally and the fifth, on the east, is filled by the main altar. The church retains many of its original furnishings, which include the main altar, designed by Santini and representing the celebration of St. John of Nepomuk in heaven and the four side altars, also designed by Santini and depicting the four Evangelists.“ (UNESCO World Heritage Centre #690)
The church’s circular or star-shaped plan was quite unusual for its day, when most churches were built on either a rectangular or a cross-shaped pattern.
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Church of St. John of Nepomuk on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected for recognition by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been recognized in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list online at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites (riverhouses.org/2020-wh-map), available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures did you explore in your homeschool this Cygnus Term? 😊
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia (riverhouses.org/books) for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 745–852; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇨🇿
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool States & Countries posts featuring historical and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list (riverhouses.org/newsletter) to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌍